Virtual Pre-Summit Event: Showcasing the Results and Successes of 1 Million by 2021 Initiative



Your Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

Your Excellency Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, AUC

Mr Alex Soros, Deputy Chair, Open Society Foundation,

Mrs Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Africa Regional Director,

Ms. Chido  Cleopatra MPEMBA, AUC Chairperson Youth Envoy

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

All protocol observed,

From the outset, let me congratulate His Excellency the Chairperson of the Commission for the 1 Million Initiative and the unwavering commitment to achieving a citizen-centred Africa as per the aspirations of Africa Agenda 2063.

It is with immense pleasure that I participate in this side event, taking stock of achievements since the launch of the initiative where the Africa Women Leaders Network committed to work hand in hand with the 1 Million Initiative and organize Intergenerational Retreat on Women’s leadership in Africa. Since then AWLN has convened three Intergenerational Retreats, at the initiative of the AWLN Young Women Leaders Caucus, under the championship of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and H.E. Mme Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and AWLN Patron.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

We are mindful of the fact that a youthful population when harnessed is often an opportunity for a dividend. Unfortunately, we are seeing a context where many of the young people within the productive age are dealing with not just unemployment but terrible underemployment hindering growth and development in Africa.  This situation undermines political stability and social cohesion as many young people are easily recruited into crime, militia and even terrorist gangs as a result of these groups providing both financial reward and a sense of meaning and belonging. This is why it is important that those of us that have the responsibility continue to do our best to provide a better future for our young people.

The results that have been presented have been very heart-warming. It is also a positive point that we are not here speaking about potential but about actual implementation targeting young people. Despite the many challenges brought on by the pandemic and the need to adjust methods, the team has not only met the daunting target but have exponentially surpassed this. Once again my very warm congratulations to the Chairperson for this achievement.

One of my key core beliefs is the need to intentionally work towards a transition from the old to the new. I believe many of us who have put in many years making mistakes, learning, and growing should be able to transfer our learnings seamlessly to the many youth leaders. This ensures that younger people can learn from our mistakes and grow faster and further This is why I have been very interested in our intergenerational approaches. Over the past two years, this initiative has enabled multiple intergenerational dialogues that serve as a platform to nurture multigenerational partnerships and engagements. We have also ensured the senior women in our African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) are more intentional in their approach to engaging with younger women through its intergenerational dialogue.

As we move towards the future, I echo the sentiment that has been expressed in the discussions so far about prioritising scale. 1 Million young people, while encouraging, is a small number in the African context. The new target of reaching 300 million young people will require critical investments and resources. More importantly, the multistakeholder approaches that have been piloted in the first phase need to be expanded to deliver further results.

Therefore, together with many other senior women leaders, I will continue to enable and support young women leaders through their journeys. This includes leading the development of capacities and the creation of spaces for some of our young women leaders to engage with systemic issues that drive change.

Thank you very much and I look forward to the continued support of the initiative into the future.

I thank you.